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Chris Campbell

It's Halloween! Share a clay nightmare. | Oct. 31, 2011

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It's Halloween ... a day for goblins and ghosts and nightmares of clay gone wrong!!

 

We have all done it or had it happen to us.

Fingerprints left by cobalt slip? Cone 6 clay fired to Cone 10? Glazed pieces glued to the shelf?

Share your clay nightmares ....

 

What was your worst clay experience? How did it change the direction of your future clay work?

 

 

AS EVER ... hit the add reply button at the top or bottom of the page, not the one within the message.

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Amusing thread! I'll bite!!!

 

I almost feel like every piece I do is a nightmare, but my worse of the worst experience was when the kiln I was working out of did not shut off, causing the ^4-6 pieces I made to become giant pancakes on the kiln shelves. Then to make the day better, I sliced my finger while trying to chisel the pancakes off of the shelf. So after an emotional breakdown, the shelf was places in the basement and was never looked upon again. This was all the effect of rusty screws falling out which held the kiln sitter box in place, which prevented my latch from falling to trip the electric off.

 

I go into detail HERE.

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I go through stages that sometimes last a few days that I cant seem to throw anything right! It usually happens after trying something new and difficult and doing it so much that after that I cant even seem to get the simplest forms right. Sunday morning I woke up all excited to try something new that I have been wanting to make. After several attempts I knew it was time to walk away and give it another try this morning. First piece I tried this morning went all flibberty gibbet on me even though I was ready to go on a clay punching spree I calmly cut the piece off the wheel, put it in a bag and turned the wheel off and left my pottery room... I guess another try tomorrow! rolleyes.gif

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I make a lot of elephant figurines, including some that are larger and will hold a tea light. They are about 4 inches tall. When sculpting by hand, sometimes I would inadvertently leave the head area a little too thick, and then I would put them in a bisque firing when they weren't completely dry. Very upsetting to open the kiln and find elephants with their heads blown off.

 

Mea

 

(ps, I have since figured out a technique to prevent the exploding heads)

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Living in the coastal area, my partner and I make and sell a lot of 15 inch fish platters. I made one I just loved and painted it one of the new blues I wanted to try. We fired it and when it cooled off, opened the kiln. The fish was beautiful. Picked it up AND....... the brace I had used to hold up the tail even had shifted and was glazed to the fish tail. No way to get it off. It sits in a dark corner of my china cabinet where not one can tell it has an permanent attachment. I still love the color!

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My best horror story is when I took a short, one evening demo workshop at my local pottery supply on throwing large by sections. I decided I would make a pot to challenge the vertical height of my kiln, and to fulfill my wife's wish to have a couple of large pots for our front stoop. I got three bags of "hybrid", between runs, clay from a local clay producer for the project.

 

For my first try I decided to work with 10 pound lumps on the potter's wheel, so made them up. The first night I threw the base, about 12 inches in diameter and 14-16" tall, measured the diameter and set it aside to firm up under light plastic cover. The second night I threw the mid section and set it aside to firm up and covered the first piece better to prevent further drying. Third night I decided to put the two sections together, set them aside and throw the top section. I threw the top, set it aside, and then put the two lower sections together. So far so good. Then I added the top section and started throwing it into place. At this point the three section were a bit over twenty inches high, so I had to stand to join them and work with them. While working them together I found my wheel to be speeding up, so I went to turn it down, and accidently went full on. Before I could stop the wheel the pot got off balance and slung around until it hit something and sheared off part of the wall, and collapsed the rest. Not too good.

 

Next version, I had a bit better experience with the sections and the project went a little faster. Pretty much the same steps, but closer together. As I put the top section on round 2, I dropped my long rib I was working the outside with next to my foot pedal; and you guessed it, while retrieving it I lost my balance and recovered by landing a hand on the pedal and going to full speed again.

 

On to round 3, and finally success! I still have the clay for the second pot, but haven't gotten back to the project. Spooked, I guess you could say!

 

John

 

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The first time I used cobalt stain, I could barely see it on the white glaze so I added a bit more. Finished the plate and decided maybe the stain was a little to dark in an area so used a dry stiff brush to get rid of surplus. Forgot what I was working with (I guess) and blew the dusting away. NOT! All the dust stuck to the plate and talk about a mess--the whole thing wasn't fit to look at. I got rid of it in small pieces in various dumpsters lest it be associated with me.

 

Or putting glaze on raku pieces that were too cold and watching the pots shed the glaze (inside and out) like a snake shedding its skin.

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I was taking a sculpture class and the teacher suggested I make a silicone mold of a lions head piece I had just finished, I followed the directions but couldn't get the mold to release, so I told her I was just going to throw it away and she told me that I could just burn it off in my kiln. Big mistake the amount of white smoke coming out of the kiln was unbelievable, I had the kiln in the basement with a small ventilation fan, the house had three floors above it. The house started filling with smoke so I put my son on the sun deck outside proceeded to hold my breath and run down to the basement and turn off the kiln, then I ran up to the third floor and turn on a whole house fan to vent the house. We stood outside freezing watching the smoke pour out of the house it was dark out so no neighbors called the fire department. In the morning I had to repaint the kitchen ceiling it was stained and had stalagtites of smoke hanging from it, very halloweenish. My husband was out of town when this happened and it took me 10 years before I told him about the incredibly stupid thing I did. He just shrugged his shoulders and said that I had handled it and that's all that's matters, him being calm and reasonable spooooky| Happy Halloween Denice

Carolyn Dorr likes this

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I work with colored clay patterns which means there are hundreds of places for glaze to seep through. One day I glazed the insides of about thirty vases. Forgot to stilt them in my rush to get the kiln load going. You got it !! Thirty vases permanently glued to the shelves. I did consider naming the resulting horror and submitting to a clay competition ... but ended up just chiseling shelves.

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In grad school,,the new prof was Ron Gallas. The first day he asked for a list of everything we had done for the next session. That was how I ended up firing a salt kiln. First time. Everything was going well in the firing up until about Cone 6 when my partner and I noticed the bricked up door was bulging outward! The firing was a semester load of his and my pots along with several other pots from other people. The bricks were bulging out about 1 1/2'. We grabbed some angle iron bracing used for an older kiln and pushed the bricks in gently bracing with the angle iron and some weight piled at the ground. The rest of the firing went fine, but for a weak salting. The pots turned out pretty well, but it was the last time I fired other peoples pots in a gas kiln, and nearly my last firing. The firing was at night at a major university in central PA. There was no night supervision for us to get help from, and we were a little frightened and panicked. The experience was memorable.

 

Nightmares! How about the real night time dreams of the piece of clay that never gets centered on the wheel! Anyone else get them?

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Last year I was helping a fellow student make a plaster mold for a giant sphere... at least 1.5 feet in diameter... she had the coddle made, sealed and ready to pour the first half over the sphere... I should add that the sphere we were trying to make a mold of was a giant inflatable ball...

 

Attempt 1: The coddle cracked and 50-75 lbs of plaster spilled all over the floor. (She was cleaning plaster for hours).

 

She decided that the weight of the plaster was too much for the wood and screws to handle, so she decided it would be easier to cast in the bottom of large garbage can...

 

Attempt 2: The pouring was a success, obviously the garbage can wasn't going to give. About a minute after pouring, just long enough for our anxiety to subside, we heard a loud gurgling sound. My professor, who had stepped in to help out, asked me if it was my stomach. After a pause and an timid reply, "...noooooo..." We both began to inspect the wet plaster. Had it set enough to hold that buoyant ball in place?... nope! It shot straight out, with impressive force, shooting plaster everywhere!

 

After laughing ourselves silly, we held the ball down in the wet plaster with our hands for about 15 minutes until it set and ended up with a very useful press mold. :)

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Nightmares! How about the real night time dreams of the piece of clay that never gets centered on the wheel! Anyone else get them?

 

 

Now that's a nightmare!

 

 

While working 24/7 to get ready for shows in the 90's I got a lot of those dreams/nightmares!

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